Point-blank: Israeli game up

Mohamed Salmawy
Thursday 17 Aug 2023

Never before in the history of US-Israeli relations had Washington ever described any Israeli action as terrorist.


The precedent was set on 7 August in a statement by the State Department: “We strongly condemn yesterday’s terror attack by Israeli extremist settlers that killed a 19-year-old Palestinian,” and urging “full accountability and justice.”

Is the game up for Israel whereby it perpetuates horrific crimes against Palestinian civilians and then claims it is the victim of Palestinian terrorism? What went wrong this time? 

It has become impossible to cover up the escalation in assaults orchestrated by Jewish settlers in the West Bank. They are murdering Palestinians, setting their homes on faire, desecrating their mosques and churches in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem in broad daylight at unprecedented rates.

A recent Financial Times report by the Jerusalem correspondent tells us the tragic story of the farmer Samer Masoud.

While working in his fields one day, he received a phone call telling him that settlers had set fire to his family home in Burqa village. He raced home to help put out the fire only to find that the Israeli army had arrived and was firing teargas canisters into the crowd of young men who were trying to extinguish the fire which continued to rage until the farmer’s house was completely consumed. The purpose of the arson was to make way for the expansion of a Jewish settlement that bordered this man’s home. 

An estimated 450,000 settlers live in the West Bank. Since coming to power again, the Netanyahu government has authorised the expansion of nine settlements that even previous Israeli governments had acknowledged were illegal.

The present government has also announced plans to build 7,000 new housing units for settlers, which will cost billions of dollars.

Haaretz reported that the Netanyahu government – the most extreme right in Israeli history – has been actively encouraging settler attacks, which helps explain their proliferation and increasing lethality. The Israeli newspaper notes that despite the repeated occurrence of deliberate killings by settlers, not one person has been charged with murder. Instead, the government portrays these crimes as “self-defence.” 

But the settlers’ brutality has apparently reached a point where not even Israel’s closest ally can be taken in by its old game.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 17 August, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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